National airline is “Macedonia’s missing link”

Macedonia makes progress on national airline project

The Director General of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency (CAA), Dejan Mojsoski, says plans to create a new national carrier, six years following the demise of MAT Macedonian Airlines, are on track and are advancing. Last week, a tender to find a consultancy firm willing to seek out potential foreign partners to assist in creating the country's new national airline came to an end. Mr. Mojsoski believes a flag carrier is “Macedonia’s missing link”. “We have modern airports, aviation authorities, professional air traffic control, but we don’t have a national airline. Its creation will be a challenging task, but if set up on sound foundations, and in line with necessary standards, Macedonia will reap huge benefits”.

The CAA recently requested for amendments to be made to the National Aviation Strategy, in order to include the creation of a new flag carrier. “As a result, we will be able to build an aviation industry, generate new jobs, boost our GDP and improve economic ties. Finally, a significant number of our aviation professionals working abroad will be able to return home”, Mr. Mojsoski says. The company which will be granted a license to operate as Macedonia’s national carrier will have to have at least 51% of Macedonian capital and at least one aircraft registered in the country, either owned or leased. The Turkish TAV Airports Holding, which runs both of Macedonia’s international airports, said the country is in need of a national carrier in order to develop its aviation industry. The Macedonian government has said subsidised issued to low cost airlines, such as Wizz Air, for their flights out of the country, will be maintained despite the launch of a new national airline. Wizz Air carried 40% of all commercial passengers to and from Macedonia.

The CAA also believes a local flag carrier will bring significant growth to Skopje Airport. “If current trends continue, then we can expect Skopje Airport to handle two million passengers in 2017 or 2018. Passenger growth intensified in 2010 and over the past five years, numbers have increased 66%. Skopje Airport has the capacity to handle three million passengers per year, and estimates show that by 2020, it could operate within its optimum capacity”, the head of the CAA says. Skopje Airport recorded one of the biggest passenger growth rates in Europe out of all the other capital cities on the continent and its busiest year on record in 2014. It handled 1.120.870 passengers during the first eleven months, up 21%. Over the past twenty years, Macedonia has had two national carriers, both of which subsequently declared bankruptcy.


  1. Anonymous10:09

    I'm just wondering where all this cash is coming from? Loans?

  2. Anonymous10:35

    Why do they need a national airline when they have Wizz?

    1. Anonymous10:49

      My assumption is that there two camps within the Macedonian government that are trying to get money in their pockets from these deals. One team is already taking a cut from the Wizz Air deal, while the other team is not getting their share and is looking to establish a national airline to achieve this goal. This is the only way that I can explain why a poor country would provide massive subsidies to an LCC while looking to form a national airline.

    2. Anonymous10:59

      The problem is, the market is too small for full boost of both concepts (national carrier and subsidies for the expansion of W6 network). If the national carrier is established and it starts connecting SKP with main european hubs, foreign partner would seek support similar to one ASL received from the government. This would mean either a sudden cut of all support to W6 or a sudden competition where both players would have lower LF. Either scenario means severe restrictions of W6 operations, they simply cannot grow significantly in Macedonia if there is a national airline.

      Also worth mentioning is that this national airline MUST have professional management from abroad. It is an absolute must. Otherwise we will get another YM in the ExYU skies very quickly.

    3. Anonymous11:02

      I agree with the idea of a camp pushing for something for their pocket in regards to this project. I doubt anyone is getting anything from the Wizz Air deal though.

      In any case, the existing subsidies are miniscule (<10 EUR per dep pax on average). The sum may seem large when aggregated.

    4. Anonymous11:04

      Because they want to make money. They don't want WizzAir to get their money, make money from their country.

    5. Anonymous11:25

      It is without doubt that it would be better to make money in Macedonia, through a local company with its own employees and know-how.

      There is, however, one big 'however': there can be no national carrier and huge expansion of W6 at the same time. It will be either MAT or W6 as two carriers cannot profit from the demand Macedonian market is able to generate (even with pax from Kosovo and perhaps Southern Serbia). This whole thing carries a potential impact on SKP performance so TAV will probably have their own remarks.

      In order to make money, national carrier would have to be successful. If the management would come from politics then a financial disaster is absolutely certain. Only professionals hired from aviation can do something with it. And even then the profits would not be guaranteed because of tight margins, weak market and fierce competition.

      IMHO support to W6 is far less of a risky game for the Macedonian government. Reviving MAT would be a huge gamble even if done in 100% professional manner (which I somehow doubt will happen).

    6. Anonymous15:02

      Win-Win: Wizz can make the same mistake as in Ukraine and register "Wizzair Macedonia" as a company, so there: you have both national airline and LCC in Skopje.

    7. Anonymous15:33

      Anonymous @ 10:49

      Bang on.

  3. Anonymous10:43

    I hope they will set up a National Carrier... I miss the macedonian Flag in the Sky..

    The new carrier could fly to europes main hubs and offer conecting flights

  4. Anonymous10:51

    Good luck Macedonia :)

  5. Purger11:09

    Air Serbia, ATR 72

    Friday 2.5. at 20.40

    19 of 66 = 28,7%

    Monday 5.5. at 7.35

    32 of 66 = 48,4%

    LF on those 2 flights 51 od 132 = 38,6%

    1. Anonymous11:15

      Purger, please don't tell me you have decided to join this vanguard who are on watch 24/7, waiting for an opportunity to post low loads and departure delays of ASL flights without any regards of what is the topic of the day???

    2. Anonymous11:30

      Purger, what about other days?

    3. Actually, these numbers are fantastic if you have in mind the number of flights that feed them.

      The 20.40 return to Belgrade has a limited number of departures around midnight and the same goes for the morning departure. The other two flights are usually the ones that are packed.

    4. Anonymous12:57

      Purger is not telling us anything about the service yet and where he flew to/from... What about the Frankfurt leg?

    5. Anonymous13:13

      I was hoping Purger would post today, so that I could confirm my suspicions.

      Purger is lying about the loads, for reasons known only to him.

      I too was on this morning's flight to ZAG; in fact, I spotted Purger and his female companion at one point.

      I personally counted 38 heads in the bus, and I could swear a few more joined before the doors closed. My headcount could've been wrong, but not by six.

      You may or may not believe me, but from now on, I'll definitely be taking Purger's comments here with a (sizeable) grain of salt.

    6. Aэrologic13:23

      I'll be taking them with a grain of pepper.

    7. Anonymous14:00

      AnonymousJanuary 5, 2015 at 1:13 PM

      Upravo sam proverio u sistemu i Purger je bio u pravu, ne znam ko si ti letu bio ali očigledno je da niste bili na istom.

    8. Anonymous14:43

      Well, one rakija too much in the morning can easily turn 32 into 38 :)

      The saddest part is, this totally irrelevant detail (32 or 38 pax on a single flight) will now trigger a 50-post duck-o-meter between professional Serbs and professional Croats. At some point the kid will also return from school and then all hell will break loose. Damn.

      I am sure Purger knows a lot about Macedonia and could have contributed to today's news feed. Why instead he chose to post the LF on an ASL flight is really beyond me.

    9. Anonymous15:11

      Haha Hahahahahahaha one of the best comments on here, especially about the kid coming back from school.

    10. The numbers could be better but given that it is traditionally a slow period I personally do not think they represent a disaster if this is what someone was trying to say.

      The numbers will definitely pickup towards the summer and I also think that OU will launch at least 3 weekly seasonal Zagreb - Belgrade flights. Especially if the flights prove to be popular in the future, OU will be forced to start flying this route if not only for political reasons.

    11. Anonymous15:35

      Like nemjee told, he took flights with small connecting options in Belgrade. Morning flight to BEG is full and evening flight out of Belgrade is full.

    12. Anonymous16:19

      Sure, they were cheaper.

    13. Purger17:10

      I just posted that because I was on those flights. There was precisely 32 pax in that plane including me and my female companion.

    14. Anonymous18:15

      We should not make assumptions about LF based on two flight someone's taken, but it's ok if you wanted to share that with us here.
      No mention from you about the service, what was offered on that short flight?

    15. Anonymous18:29

      If the service was decent it will not be mentioned.

      If something was below standards we will for sure learn about it.

      This is how this game is played.

    16. Anonymous18:43

      Vanilla bread and orange juice on BEG-ZAG this morning.

    17. Anonymous18:58

      @Anon at 6:29

      Exactly, h8ters think this is a zero sum game and every Air Serbia delay or empty plane is somehow a plus for them. Well, it isn't.

    18. Purger01:21

      Service was not good.

      On ZAG-BEG it was that small and not eatable sandwich and little bottle of water, and on BEG-ZAG miniature vanilla brad and small juice. Plane is not in good shape. On ZAG-BEG lights on my seat did not work and central light was blinking, seats have new leader but armrest are in disaster shape. On ZAG-BEG flight doors on luggage compartment on 14 D-E was broke. I did not have enough space for my legs in ATR and I am just 1,84 meters. During check-in in BEG line for luggage stops and we have to wait. Unlucky me in same time lady that was working on my check-in have to fix some problem with luggage of some sportsmen that was trying to check-in before me so she try to do our check in simultaneously (she left check-in for at least 5 times and went to Air Serbia window 2 times) and that make mine check-in procedure more than 25 minutes. My female colleague had to be extra searched on body check and there was no detector but it was made by hand of security staff (even without gloves). And staff made real detail search on all and even intimate part of body. Strange. On BEG-ZAG plane was very cold when we get in, really frizzing. Flight was late 30 minutes because of deicing that we have to wait for.

      So, I don’t find this service good, but I also did not find so big problems that they have to be published here.

    19. You didn't have space for your legs in the ATR and you are 185 cm? Those seats are 32 inch pitch... 66 passengers per plane...

      Believe me, I am an expert in leg room. I am 196 cm. Yesterday I flew Horizon's Q400 with 31 inch legroom, and I had no issue whatsoever. Was comfortable overall. I really like horizon and the Q400.

    20. Anonymous02:07

      What about your Frankfurt flight Purger?

    21. Anonymous06:06

      No need to ask. I can tell you right now the food was horrible, staff unprofessional, aircraft a piece of junk, security agressive (though it is not related to ASL but what the hell, let's just put everything on their account) etc. Probably the pilots were drunk as well.

      You can also take this 'experience' in advance - for all ASL flights that are yet to take off. I mean, to save yourself some time. Because this is the only kind of 'review' we will ever read. So we can simply take it as standard.

    22. Don't forget that Air Serbia's 32 inch pitch offers much less legroom than other carriers' 32 inch pitch.

    23. Anonymous07:17

      well, also 5.jan:
      JU231 zag-beg 51pax
      JU234 beg-zag 51pax

      JU230 beg-zag 54pax
      JU231 zag-beg 57pax
      JU234 beg-zag 58pax

      so, every flight over 77% lf

    24. Anonymous07:37

      AIR SERBIA Customer review : 31 December 2014 by Stephane Dagot (France):

      CDG-ATH-SKG-CDG, round trip. What a lovely airline! All flights with very comfortable seat. Cabin crews were very professional and were always present. At CDG our flight was delayed. The purser was very helpful and gave us all infomation and we didn't miss the connecting flight. air Serbia offers a very good product. Good food, good choice of drinks - excellent value for money.

      AIR SERBIA Customer review : 22 December 2014 by Zaric Ratko (Montenegro):

      I flew from Podgorica, Montenegro to Belgrade and than Belgrade to Banja Luka. Even though they were ATR 72 airplanes (rather modest in size) I have to say that I had an extremely pleasant experience. Those ATRs looked very good, renewed, clean, warm and pleasant. Flights were on time and according to the schedule, staff were extremely polite and helpful. They looked (at least to me) new and with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. There was a meal served (these are 50 minutes flights i.e. rather short) with beverages and that was very refreshing. Excellent and I would recommend them.

    25. Anonymous11:00

      Purger may I suggest a few English spelling courses?? Also it's a shame you have some grudge against JU and make that a big part of your life! If you don't like them don't fly them! Your comments are sometimes interesting to read but now I will be ignoring them. It's a shame!

    26. Purger12:02

      My opinion about JU staff is totally opposite than you try to put in my mouth. The best thing Air Serbia has in this moment is staff (in plane and in check-in). They are professional, present and for sure the best I ever fly with and I did fly with more than 100 companies till now. By my experience just Qatar crew are better than that.

      But as I said, those problems which I had are minor, price is very good and for sure it is much better to fly 45 minutes, than to travel with car for 4 hours.

      I did not buy that FRA ticket because it was not possible to buy it on Internet so I bought ticket to FRA with different airliner.

      I don’t have anything more against Air Serbia than against any other company I flew with. I even did not want to publish my review, because as I said it is nothing huge, but it was not “perfect” flight as latter someone want to say. As I said I am more critical to Croatia than to Air Serbia. But I think it is your problem that you don’t want to see that Air Serbia is not a perfect and that you have to work hard to put it in level you want it to be. Air Serbia becomes religion for some people here and if someone says anything against he make blasphemy. You idealize Air Serbia and by this you make a huge mistake because you don’t force it to be better.

      One more time let me point clear: after all Air Serbia is better company than Croatia, it is cheap and service is fair. It is far away from perfect but for sure I can fly with them without any problem. In this moment it is best value for money in the region. Nothing more than that.

      About English spelling, yes I know that my English is not perfect, not even good, but most of us do not have English as our first language. I do speak and can communicate on 8 languages exempt Croatian, but I did not study English, I am not translator or English for sure is not my source of earning money. It is just a tool. One of knowledge I have, for sure not the best of those.

    27. Anonymous12:10

      Ok Purger but just a few comments ago you complained how bad their service was!! JU is far from perfect but you have yesterday and in the past been very harsh on the airline criticizing things e.g. security guards which are really not the airline's fault.

      If that's not what you wanted to put across and I just get the wrong impression I'm sorry. But in future, maybe mention those positive aspects so others don't get the wrong impression also.

    28. Purger19:27

      Security is my experience of that flight. I as a passenger don't care if that was airport, police, Air Serbia or someone else. I will choose Belgrade and JU by owerall experience.

      Yes I was critical and I did not change my opinion. Just that lot of people here can not understand criticizm and think that when you say something bad (not all) you are national enemy. In my last rewiev I point all good things also. But no one read that just react on JU mistakes and bad things.

  6. Anonymous11:27

    Does anyone know approximately how well is Skopje ranked by the number of Wizz air destinations in the entire network? It will have something about 18, right?

    1. Anonymous12:38


  7. Anonymous11:33

    OT: Sarajevo Airport handled 43 079 passengers in December, up 17% compared to December last year. Pax in total for 2014 = 709 901 :)

  8. Anonymous12:02

    Unseen delays @BEG, this time not cause of the Beirut flight.

    1. Anonymous12:13

      Unseen? The situation is not THAT bad. Also, a lot of flights were delayed in certain European airports.

    2. Anonymous12:27

      6 JU destinations in the morning wave were delayed between 40 and 60 mins. We don't know the reasons and we have seen far worse days at BEG.

    3. Anonymous13:02

      JU310 - 1h20 delay
      JU300 - 1h15 delay
      JU350 - 1h25 delay


      Did you count things right?

    4. Anonymous13:59

      Only briefly counted them coz I am sure you watch 365 days nonstop, anxioulsy awaiting for updates in the delay section that would fill your life with puropse. Today is by all means your big day so pour yourself a few shots of rakija and enjoy the delays. Good to see they make at least someone happy and joyful.

  9. Anonymous13:32

    The Macedonian national carrier could spell the end of the Macedonian aviation miracle.

  10. Anonymous13:58

    JU is sending its B733 to Skopje today, nice to see a bigger aircraft replacing the small Atr.

  11. Anonymous14:48

    How realistic is todays news? You decide, from the same person in Dec 2013:

    The Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency says flights from the United States and Canada are likely to be launched in the summer of 2014. “The Macedonian diaspora will soon have the possibility to fly to their homeland with the launch of transatlantic flights from Canada via the United States to Macedonia”, the agency said in a statement, adding it has been working on these long haul flights since early this year. According to Dejan Mojsoski, the head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency, flights will operate on a seasonal basis, during peak summer and winter months. “The response from airlines in Canada has been favourable, but I won’t mention their names at the moment, until the process is finalised”, Mr. Mojskoski says.

  12. Croatia is sending their A320 to Skopje today, glad to see that

  13. Anonymous15:13

    OT: SMATSA Retain Control of Bosnia Skies
    More at:

    1. Anonymous15:21

      Thats no revolutionary news, we took over control of a lower layer of our airspace November last year, and we are taking over the complete airspace November this year. Our neighbors had 20 years to drain money from our airspace, it has finally come to an end, our airspace, our money. :)

    2. Anonymous15:24

      They employed their children and buddies in Bosnia, it's quite disgusting.

    3. Anonymous15:43

      As if in Serbia friends, family and mistresses are not employed in SMATSA and on Nikola Tesla.

    4. Anonymous16:18

      Nope, they are not, sorry.

  14. OT: anyone know anything about Bosnian Wand Airlines? They are supposed to start flying in four days.

  15. AirCEO17:30

    My take on new regional airlines starts with a quick look back.

    Newly formed Ex Yu countries rejected JAT as a single airline of the region. Everyone created their own only to realize most of them are not sustainable and viable.

    Then in 2012 regional political forces blocked merger talks. They received sound guidance from Europe:

    "In March 2012, the Secretary General of the Association of European Airlines, Ulrich Schulte Strathaus, said that in order for the national carriers of the former Yugoslavia to survive they would need to unite into a single airline. “The once single Yugoslav market is now fragmented and a regional solution is necessary. The region needs an airline that would cover local needs and connect with global hubs”, Mr Strathaus said at the time"

    (from Ex Yu Av blog on 26.09.2013)

    His words still ring true but some refuse to see end nearing for many airlines as region as a whole gets closer to EU. Wizz is using this opportunity to spread but will certainly not provide region with needed links to premium EU hubs, global destinations and even intra-regional links.

    Whether like it or not, realistically the only airline with long term chances of fulfilling AEA's prophecy is Air Serbia. If you can't beat them, join them! Clock is ticking...

    1. If Air Serbia had any desire to become a national airline for all of Ex-Yugoslavia, they wouldn't have changed the name from JAT, or they would have chosen any other name other than Air Serbia.

      You have to consider how all the other carriers fit into Air Serbia's business plan. Air Serbia is trying to build a hub operation in BEG, and other carriers only fit into that plan if they are offering flights to Belgrade with Air Serbia code shares.

    2. Anonymous05:41

      Are you sure about that? From Oct 28 2013 on this blog:
      "The CEO of Air Serbia, Dane Kondić, has announced the airline is considering the possibility to purchase an airline in the region as part of its future expansion plans but says the Serbian carrier must first turn a profit before making such a big strategic move. Mr. Kondić believes his airline will turn a profit within a year’s time. “I think any business is always going to look at opportunities for growth. At the moment we have our own goals, ambitions and plans, which is to bring into service ten of these new aircraft, build a route structure, get some sustainability and then we can look at other sorts of investment that may involve acquisitions around the region”, Mr. Kondić said.
      Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, echoed the words of Air Serbia’s CEO, “There is an idea to acquire some airlines in the region after we bring in new planes. All airlines in the region have many problems. They are facing great challenges and will face them in the future”.

  16. Anonymous18:37

    Ako se bude desilo to ja mislim da bi najbolja flota bila:
    3 Q400 ili ATR 72-600
    2 Embraer 190
    1 736, 737-700 .738 ili A320
    Sta drugi misle koja je bi flota bila najbolja za buduci MAT.

    1. Anonymous19:40

      6 aviona, tri razičita tipa. Talentovano, nema šta ;)

    2. Anonymous19:49

      Ne mora da imaju 738 ili 320 to sam samo tako dodao.
      Neka nisam talentovan vazno je da ste vi.

    3. INN, I think that the only way for this to succeed is for the airline to have a single type in it's fleet. :)

      The fleet should be based off of the destinations to be served, and not the other way around. To answer the question about what the fleet needs to be, we need to analyze what some possible destinations are.

      First of all, this airline can forget about any meaningful amount of transfer passengers. They simply will not have the scale to offer many connections, nor will they have the size to be able to market themselves and to fight against bigger players.

      This airline also should not be started simply to compete with existing airlines in Skopje, because there is no point in that. This market is not big enough to have multiple carriers on most routes, and frequencies would have to be cut, and overall it would not bring any benefit.

      Therefore, the airline needs to focus on routes that are currently not offered from Skopje.

      What are these routes? Well there are not many. Wizz does a very good job of covering all the Western and Northern European destinations. So what is left? Wizz doesn't fly to main airports, and they don't fly between Ex-Yu Airports and other short haul flights.

      I can identify two possible scenarios with a slight (but very slim) chance of success.

      Scenario A:
      ACMI Lease (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) of regional jets, preferably CRJ aircraft from Adria. Adria would connect Skopje with the European Star Alliance hubs such as Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, etc. This scenario might work, but it doesn't bring any real benefit that can't be achieved with simply luring Adria to open a base in Skopje by giving similar subsidies as those to Wizz. Either way, Macedonia will be losing money, it simply is a question of how much.

      Scenario B: ACMI lease of two ATR 42 aircraft, and focusing on luring tourists and business traffic between Skopje/Ohrid and destinations withing neighboring countries. In this scenario, a much bigger focus would be giving on Ohrid, and the main objective would be to attract tourists with inexpensive airfare. This scenario also would lose money, but it might be worth it overall if enough tourists can be brought in.

    4. Anonymous21:07

      Hvala Aleksandre na ljubaznom objasnjenju.
      Iskreno ja nisam razmisljao o potencijalnim routama zato sam napisao i cudni izbor flote.
      A sto se tice BWA kako sam ja cuo trebalo bi sve po planu da krene (tako mi je receno pre 10 dana.)

  17. Anonymous23:55

    Posto Bosanski Štapić kreće 7. 1. 2014. možda će preko njega Deda Mraz isporučiti paketiće ove godine? Moguće da su na to aludirali sa svojim genijalnim imenom!


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